Following Mariam Mamadashvili’s win on Saturday night, our attentions now turn to the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017 and who will host the event. Mariam’s victory with her song “Mzeo”, meaning “Sun”, confirmed Georgia’s place as the untouchable force of the Junior contest and, after being passed over on their previous two wins, surely it is now the turn of the Caucasus nation to host the competition, if indeed it wants to host.
Sitting pretty at the top
It has taken Georgia just ten participations to establish themselves as the top nation for young talent in Europe. One would find it hard to deny Georgia the title. They have won three times, been runner-up once and had three further top-five finishes. That means that 70% of their entries have finished inside the top five at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest.
|Year||Artist / Song||Place / Points|
|2007||Mariam Romelashvili / “Odelia Ranuni”||4th / 116|
|2008||Bzikebi / “Bzz”||1st / 154|
|2009||Princesses / “Lurji prinveli”||7th / 68|
|2010||Mariam Kakhelishvili / “Mari-Dari”||4th / 109|
|2011||Candy / “Candy Music”||1st / 108|
|2012||Funkids / “Funky Lemonade”||2nd / 103|
|2013||The Smile Shop / “Give Me Your Smile”||5th / 91|
|2014||Lizi Pop / “Happy Day”||11th / 54|
|2015||The Virus / “Gabede”||10th / 51|
|2016||Mariam Mamadashvili / “Mzeo”||1st / 239|
Whilst the number of participants may have fluctuated over the past ten years, Georgia’s search for excellence has been unwavering.
It’s time to see the ‘sun’ of Junior Eurovision rise in Georgia
With Georgia being such a successful nation at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, it’s difficult to understand why they haven’t yet had the chance to host, particularly considering their Caucasus neighbours Armenia have done so. There has always been talk of the decision between Tbilisi and Batumi in-case of a Georgian Eurovision win, so I’m sure there’s probably a similar discussion to be had if Georgia was to host the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017, with the ball probably firmly in Tbilisi’s hands.
The question must be asked: why was it that Georgia was passed over twice before with their victories? Following the win by Bzikebi in 2008, the hosting of the contest in 2009 was open to bidding. Ukraine was awarded the contest ahead of Belarus and Serbia. In 2011, the following contest had already been awarded to the Netherlands, the home-nation of the then-Executive Supervisor of the Eurovision Song Contest, Sietse Bakker, before Candy could even perform on the stage to lift their Junior Eurovision trophy.
On this occasion, there is no host city already set in stone for the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017. Since 2013, the winning nation has been offered the right to host the following competition. So far, this opportunity has only been turned down by Italy following their win in 2014, but was eagerly picked up by the runners-up that year, Bulgaria.
During the Winners’ Press Conference on Sunday evening in Malta, the current Executive Supervisior for the event, Jon Ola Sand – who incidentally is also now the EBU’s Head of Live Events – seemed to infer that the opportunity to host was going out to tender, saying that “we [the EBU] will work hard over the next year to find a host and to make another great show in November next year”.
If not Georgia, who else could host the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017?
The Junior Eurovision Song Contest is in a difficult position if the powers that be at the EBU did not want to send the competition to Georgia, and indeed if they have not offered GPB the right of refusal to host next year’s contest. Usually, you would suggest that a runner-up could host the event, but Armenia have done so before, so why not Georgia, and, as mentioned earlier, Italy have already refused once before when they won.
There are numerous costs involved with running the competition, particularly with the organisation of getting so many young performers and their supporting delegations to the host city for a week’s long competition including welcome party, rehearsals and the live shows themselves (there is a Jury Final for Junior Eurovision like there is for Eurovision itself).
If Georgia wants to host the competition, and that’s the key word here – if, they will be aware that there will be event costs to cover, one way or another. PBS, the Maltese broadcaster, has now hosted two editions of the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in the past three years in two different locations, with two different budgets and two different structures to the show. GPB could easily get in touch with PBS to find out what it takes to host the competition, taking on board the criticisms levelled at the show this year on social media as well as the advice from the two-time host broadcaster.
Numerous reports and rumours have circulated during the years in which Malta has hosted the Junior contest that the broadcaster has had to subsidise some costs for other nations, from transport and hotels to participation fees. The question may need to be asked of GPB to repeat those in order to keep the participants number this high or to ask the EBU to change the costs involved with running the event in order to aid countries like Georgia in hosting the event.
For a country like Georgia, there is also a lot to gain in hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
“Good evening Tbilisi, these are the results of the Armenian jury…”
It is unenviable to have your nation paraded on television for 2 and a half hours, displaying all the reasons for tourists to come and visit your country. Malta have perfected the art of the postcard in their two times hosting the Junior contest.
The recognition that Georgia could receive by doing stylistic postcards such as these in showing off the whole country, not just Tbilisi, might end up increasing the number of tourists that the country receives in the 12 months following the competition. That in itself is invaluable in the long-run and could see the government assist the broadcaster in the hosting of the competition financially, if the government could see a financial benefit to hosting the Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
At the Winners’ Press Conference, the CEO of PBS, John Bundy, said, “we are a small nation but we proved today we can do big things”.
Perhaps this is the key quote that might motivate GPB to want to host the contest in Georgia.